Experimenting with Kanban: Classes of Service

The Problem

Our team handles two kinds of issues: product evolution and maintenance. Even with a very good overall SLA (cycle time), the team was struggling to evolve with an evolution project composed of about 30 stories, due to the high traffic of maintenance issues that kept comming with higher priority.

The Solution: Classes of Service

Doing some research we found this very good article about an aspect of Kanban that we hadn’t tried yet: Classes of Service. We created two classes: project and express. We limited our “express” lane to have at most one issue at a time, meaning that we can’t have another express issue until the former one is solved and in production. Also, with this configuration we forced all our issues to either belong to a project or be an express one, which forced our Product Owner to create “bug fix packages”, for example, instead of putting tons of micro fixes in the queue. And as a side effect, this configuration also forced our Product Owner to use the express class wisely, improving his prioritization method.

Conclusion

After this tweak, our team started to handle both product evolution and maintenance much more effectively. Both our projects SLA and overall SLA improved and both the team and the Product Owner became happier! I really recommend the use of Classes of Service if you are in a context similar to the one described here and I would be glad to hear about your results, too!

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